It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to update this home page – the Summer has been flying by with gorgeous yellows and golds – from the momentous manifestation of Pagbabalik in June to 6 weeks of amazing education & arts at Aim High (www.aimhigh.org) – to several readings & performances, including Raphael Cohen’s Story Circle, Poetry Mission’s Dalva, Art in Action’s Youth Voices Rising at CounterPULSE – and already, it’s time to get ready for the Fall Semester! It’s been a lesson of Art and the Art of Teaching.
I’ve recently updated my Artist Statement, below, and invite your comments on it. Also, please scroll down for a couple of community events to support. Keep posted as I plan to update this page, and the Calendar page, more regularly…and holla back if you’re reading this! Go to the Your Words page and give your feedback!
As Always, MANY THANKS / SALAMAT for your support!
As a writer, performer and educator my goals are the same: to tell stories, to provoke my audiences to ask questions, and ultimately, to foster dialogue. The concept of movement is at the heart of all of my work. As a Filipino-American whose parents immigrated from the Philippines in the 60s, I was born into migration. My family relocated many times throughout my childhood, making it impossible for me to adhere to one geographic place as my home. I have always been trying to locate and render “home.” I have learned that home is a place that must be constantly redefined and reinvented.
My work aims to tackle the common experience of anyone who has found in a space between belonging to one place or another. This experience is common to many of us living in the United States today. It is a space of constantly negotiating identity, of creating home. For me, it is the constant re-inventing of the Filipino, of the Filipino-American. It is the space of fluidity in gender and sexuality. It notices the erasure of our histories, and encourages the rendering of it through storytelling. My work both acknowledges and counters the romanticizing of going ‘home’, of an “authentic” culture, of a culture created in part through hundreds of years of colonization.
In my poetry and in my play, Pagbabalik (Return), I am also fascinated with the unresolved quality of memory – its contradictions and its blurriness. The thresholds it presents: the threshold between dream and reality; the threshold between life and death. The myth of “return” to something that once was. My work aims to illuminate the spaces that are unknown, allowing them to reveal themselves.
As people of color, we must move past victimization into rendering our destiny, not just individually but collectively. We have to learn one another’s stories. My work encourages storytelling, preservation, innovation, and the passing on our stories through voice, movement and music. It is interested in the materials we use to pass stories along: analog vs. digital, traditional instruments vs. electronic, body and word – what we use to document. Pagbabalik utilizes the metaphor of the tape recorder, of the tape ribbon – how it collects memories and collects dust. I ask: what will our descendants discover of us after we have gone?
I am influenced by artists of past generations and the current one, storytellers who have pushed boundaries and taken risks. They include: Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Jose Rizal, Ntozake Shange, Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, Joy Harjo, bell hooks, Richard Wright, Jessica Hagedorn, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Aya de Leon, Elmaz Abinader, Agosto Boal, Paolo Freire. I am equally influenced by my communities: local activists, educators and artists, my family members both here and abroad (all parts of the Filipino Diaspora), young people, my students.
And I am influenced by other modes of culture that have made me who I am: The music and culture of the 80’s in white America. The British Invasion and the advent of Hip Hop. Madonna, Michael Jackson and Blondie on my first cassette tapes. Small towns in the USA and the invisibility of being brown. Catholic school and public school. Growing up playing the piano. Growing up in a nuclear family, without knowing my grandparents. Growing up with both Spam and fish sauce on the table, a mixture of Tagalog and English peppering the air.
As a writer it is my job to help us, as Gloria Anzaldua proposes in Borderlands, to “forge new tongues” and in so doing, build bridges. Our modes of storytelling will draw from our past, but must be different than anything that has ever come before. And so in reaching back, and reaching forward at the same time, my work strives to push forward this collective effort.
“The Joint” @ TheBlack New World
836 Pine Street, the Village Bottoms, West Oakland, CA, The newest Hot Spot for Rejuvenation and Good Vibrations…breath in the medicine…
NEXT FRIDAY!!! August 24th, 2007
Doors at 12 midnite
grown folks rockin til 6 y’all!
Deep, soulful house and rare grooves spun by A1 selecta African Sciences, DJ Raashan of Crown City Rockers and dj fflood of Transdub Massiv
$10.00 at the door
vibes fi true!!! http://www.blacknewworld.com
SEPTEMBER 20: Fall of the I-Hotel film screening
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak @ 10th Street
One block from
Lake Merritt BART
Beginning in the 1920s San Francisco’s International Hotel (I-Hotel) provided low-cost housing for Filipinos who came to America to fi nd a better life—seamen, farm and cannery workers, houseboys, and single working men. In the 1950s, the I-Hotel was the heart of San Francisco’s Manilatown, but business and City government began to develop the area. By 1968, all that remained of Manilatown was the one block that housed the I-Hotel. The owner wanted to replace the hotel with a parking garage, catalyzing a movement of senior citizens, churches, labor groups, and community activists to preserve it. Despite political maneuvering at City Hall and popular support for the hotel residents, 300 baton-wielding and horse-mounted police broke through a human barricade of several thousand people and forcibly mounted police broke through a human barricade of several thousand people and forcibly evicted 50 elderly tenants in the pre-dawn hours of August 4, 1977. Curtis Choy’s fi lm Fall of the I-Hotel chronicles this story. Fall of the I-Hotel fi lm screening (58 minutes) followed by panel discussion with fi lmmaker Curtis Choy; and Emil deGuzman, Al Robles, Bill Sorro, and Dr. Estella Habal— participants in the fi ght to save the I-Hotel.